Adonis Diaries

Archive for December 9th, 2008

“Le sabotage amoureux” by Amelie Nothomb ((book review, December 10, 2008)

I have read 6 out of 16 books that Amelie Nothomb has published since 1992.  After I finish reading a book I exclaim: “This is the most hilarious, most intelligent, and the most instructive book that I read”.  It never fails:  “Le sabotage amoureux” is the one and the best.

Every paragraph generates a laugh, a tragic-comic laugh. Any one with a humor spirit and who laughs easily might find himself incarcerated in an asylum by the end of the book. Except for “Sulfuric Acid” that I have harshly critiqued, and still I am convinced that it was not written by the same Nothomb: it was not her style at all.

The “Amorous sabotage” is the story of a 7-year old girl falling totally and unconditionally in love of another 6-year old girl named Elena.

Amelie finds Elena the most beautiful girl in the whole world and Elena is the most conscious girl of her beauty and power to subjugate anyone; Elena’s lonely behavior of staying above the fray, walking very slowly and looking straight ahead was hiding a most dangerous inner power that did not encourage her to fall in love.  She still demanded that people look fixedly at her beauty and forcing deference to her presence.

The story is located in Peking during the monstrous “Gang of Four” rules that decimated China by famine and in spirit by destroying its past culture and manuscripts.  It is the years between 1972 and 75 and in the “ghetto” where the foreign diplomats were forced not to cross or mingle with the Chinese population.  The Chinese cook used to frequently recall the good old-time “dans l’autrefoid” (which he pronounced “dans l’eau tres froide”); a habit that cost him to disappear in thin air and be replaced by a lady cook who was convinced that there was no past to China.

Little Amelie defined communist States as series of City of Fans (ventilators).  The kids of the foreign diplomats in the ghetto had great times: they had their own war to fight and to torture the kidnapped enemy.  They started by the “Allied” kids against the East German until the leader of the East German kids suffered chronic bronchitis from frequent immersion in urine and forgotten over night to be released.

Amelie was the center of the universe, as she remembers, until she saw the new comer Elena.  The center was transferred to Elena by Amelie who could not stop looking at her and falling helplessly in love with Elena.  Amelie quickly realized that she does not exist to Elena but she had “to do something” to attract Elena’s attention.  Amelie was ready to obey any order from Elena and ran the school court 80 times, at Elena’s wishes, who didn’t even notice that the asthmatic Amelie was running.

The French Fabrice, a boy of 6, made Elena look at him and even he managed to produce a smile from her.

Amelie had categorized society into three classes: the adult girls (including mothers), the little girls, and the ridicule (all the rest of human kinds, especially those with ridiculous penis).  Fabrice was definitely in the group “ridiculous” and Amelie could not comprehend how Elena could stoop so low.

Amelie got seriously love-sick and her mother gave her the consignment to act as cool and as distant like Elena if she wanted Elena to love her.  Amelie obeyed and stuck to the consignment and Elena noticed her very much.  Elena started to invite Amelie to her house to play with her but Amelie consistently refused.

One day, the miracle happened. Elena cried saying “Amelie, you don’t love me” Amelie did the capital error of telling Elena that she was lying all the time, that it was all a role play, and that she never stopped loving her.  The table was turned over and Elena replied “That is all that I wanted to know” and resumed her older distant behavior toward Amelie.  It was about time to leave China to New York.

Twenty years later, Amelie overheard her father saying that Elena is gaining fast the title of “femme fatal” in Rome; many sweet hearts have committed suicides.  Amelie was overjoyed because Elena stayed loyal to her legend.

This book is packed with political acumen and sharp criticism of the ridiculous life and world of the grown ups, told from a kid’s perspective.

Humor has three pre-requisites: clear purpose, clear plan, and clear ideas; no wonder humor is a rare commodity.

What future for our kids? Hang on buddy! (November 8, 2008)

            Regardless of a scenario or a combination of scenarios, there are trends that have definite paths in the foreseeable future. For example:

1.              Population on Earth will continue to increase; it might or might not reach a plateau.

2.              Potable water will dwindle and its quality will deteriorate fast.

3.              Quantity of water for irrigation will diminish.

4.              Degradation of the soil for agriculture will resume its fast pace because of intensive methods and increase in fertilizers and pesticides and deforestation and acid rains…

5.              Cultivable lands will shrink to make rooms for increased infrastructures and habitable estates.

6.              The virgin forests in the Amazon, Canada, and Africa are disappearing much quicker than reforestation policies.

7.              The concentration of carbon dioxide is increasing exponentially and there are no effective policies to make do without oil and increased coal mining.

8.              Cheaper car productions in China and India will saturate the highways and deplete even faster the oil reserves.

9.              The prices of medicines and chemical products will shoot to the roofs because of lack of oil and the necessary ingredients in the equatorial forests.

10.           The ozone layer will continue is depletion process.

11.           Biological diversity will no longer be that diverse.

12.           Maritime sources of protein are already scarce and polluted.

13.           Renewable sources of energy will not match the ever increase in demands on energies.

14.           Concentration of people in mega cities; since China joined the free market economy 150 million Chinese peasants flocked to the major cities and the same trend in India and everywhere.

Shall I go on?  There are several scenarios to remedy to this bleak future; not necessarily to stop the trends, but just to maintain the survival of human species a while longer. There are at least four scenarios. First, we might very plausible maintain the free market economy, consumerism, multinationals and higher rate of growth.  This policy has proven its catastrophic effects but no alternative economic policies are studied seriously.

            The second scenario is security first for the rich nations; the poor immigrants would be warded off these “islands” of prosperity and affluence and let the third world go to hell.  This scenario is gaining ground in Europe and the USA and tighter measures to exclude the other non-developed populations have been in place for some time.

            The third scenario is for the western nations to coordinate political policies through financial incentives and tax cuts and centralized planning with fixed objectives. Obviously, these centralized policies will be heavily biased toward the life-style of the developed and rich nations.

            The fourth scenario can be summarized by Gandhi’s statement: ” True civilization is not the multiplication to infinity the wants of man, but their deliberate limitation so that to allow each individual to share what is essential for survival”.  It is fundamentally a strategy of long term durability to maintaining the survival process by relying on the basic necessities.  This scenario screams for drastic cultural change in our behavior and consumption and the quest for renewable matters and sources of energies.

Well, we cannot expect the western civilization to make a dent in the fourth scenario; not because they lack moral character but because of the daily pressures to fit in a well established consumerism society.  This is basically the lesson of history that the vast majority has to sacrifice so that the very few could enjoy life to blotting!

In the meantime, there are these rarest of events or natural cataclysms that re-establish equilibrium to Earth survival and rejuvenation.  This time around it is man that would have been the catalyst. Human spices might or might not survive.  One thing is certain; if human kind survives the same cycle of development will recur, unless the fourth scenario culture has been inculcated deep in our psychic or animal instincts.

Have I increased your doze of pessimism? Anyway, we are all living a worried life to the benefit of the entertainment industries.  No wonder that terrorist activities are increasing; that mass destruction philosophies are common policies; that vast “collateral damages” are acceptable; that extreme, salafist behavior are widespread among all religions and sects; that mysticism is gaining wide disciples, and that patience for rational discussion is dwindling!  I would not kill your grain of hope.  Hang on buddy.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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